We just witnessed Admiral Schofield and Kyle Alexander play their last game as Tennessee Volunteers. Could it also have been the final game for Grant Williams and Jordan Bone?
Welcome to the conversation no one wants to have.
Both Bone and Williams have generated NBA attention this year and are in a similar spot to Admiral Schofield last year. Neither player is a lottery pick, but we’ve seen Williams appear in the first round of several mock drafts lately. Bone’s projection isn’t as clear, but his junior season jump had the NBA taking notice. Several analysts actually believe that Bone is Tennessee’s best NBA prospect.
Bone’s transformation from a guy who didn’t really seem to know what was going on as a sophomore, to a complete floor general was spectacular to watch. He jumped from 23 minutes per game to 32, while his scoring nearly doubled. Bone finished averaging nearly six assists per contest, while his field goal percentage climbed from 39 to 46 percent. Add in his elite speed and improved floor vision and you’ve got a really nice NBA point guard prospect.
The question is, will Bone give himself another year to develop under Rick Barnes? With Schofield definitely out of the picture and Williams potentially moving on, Bone could return as the primary offensive option for the Vols.
Of course, he could always return with Grant and form another championship caliber roster at Tennessee. But is Williams up for that?
The question he’s going to have to answer is this — will his stock ever get any higher? As an undersized post player, Williams kind of is what he is to the NBA at this point. Where there’s probably another dimension to Bone’s game, you can’t really say that about Williams. At his size, Grant is going to have to develop a more consistent jumper. We saw the start of that this year, but it could definitely get better. Williams ended up shooting 32 percent from three point range this season. That’s a pretty impressive number, considering his three point game didn’t exist last season.
Williams’ scoring, rebounding, assists and steal numbers all came up this season as he took home his second straight SEC Player of the Year award. He could return and go for three in a row, which would be an unheard of feat in today’s college basketball environment.
Grant is set to graduate early, which could be another factor in his decision.
How much does another title run mean to Bone and Williams? That’s one question that they’re going to have to find the answer to. Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner will be back and the Vols will add five-star guard Josiah James into the mix. James has already been working recruiting both Bone and Williams back to Knoxville.
A team with those four senior starters who have been through what they’ve been through would absolutely be favored to win the SEC once again. Will we get a chance to see that group? That remains to be seen.
At the very least, you’ll probably see both Williams and Bone declare without signing agents, which would still allow them to return to Tennessee after the pre-draft process. From there, the information they get back from the league will likely make their final decisions for them.